The BMA’s most senior doctor, Chair of Council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to warn him that ‘punitive’ pension taxation is the greatest threat to the medical workforce.
In a starkly worded open letter, Dr Nagpaul told Mr Johnson that pension taxation could lead to a reduction in work done by doctors, or an exodus from the health service.
Dr Nagpaul wrote to the Prime Minister: ‘During the leadership campaign, the BMA welcomed your commitment to ‘fix’ the lifetime allowance – but we also pointed out that the problems doctors face are further exacerbated by the annual allowance and tapered annual allowance.
‘Without action by the Treasury to address the cumulative impact of these policies, doctors will have no choice but to reduce the amount of work they do for the NHS, or leave it entirely, to avoid unexpected tax bills that can be four, five, or even six figures in some cases.’
He went on: ‘The NHS already has 10,000 unfilled medical vacancies and we simply cannot afford to lose any more or for those staff we do have to reduce their availability, which is precisely what we are seeing as a result of current government taxation policy.’
Dr Nagpaul tells Boris Johnson that if, as he stated, he wishes to bring down GP waiting times, then he must act to address the GP workforce problem and vastly improve the availability of support in the community.
The letter also accuses the Prime Minister of ignoring the BMA’s repeated warnings of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit: ‘Brexit is clearly at the forefront of your agenda. The BMA is alarmed at the prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and we have repeatedly warned that such an outcome could have potentially catastrophic consequences across the NHS. Given these risks, I am urging you take every possible step to avoid ‘no-deal’.’
Dr Nagpaul concludes by offering to work with the Government in the pursuit of the ‘vital goal’ of ensuring that the NHS is able to provide the best care possible to patients across the UK.